Kick-off to Sustainable Sports

Written by: Tyler Sam, Sustainability Manager

With the Super Bowl about to kick-off the same weekend as the Phoenix Open's tee-time, I think it’s a great opportunity to explore the sustainability initiatives involved in these two big sporting events. Golf and football are two of my favorite sports and sustainability is not only my career choice, but also a passion. I’d like to discuss what the Phoenix Open and the Super Bowl are doing to emphasize sustainability at their respective events.

The Phoenix Open began in 1932 and today boasts some of the largest crowds on the PGA Tour. In 2016, the Phoenix Open set an attendance record on Saturday, February 6th with 201,003 fans. With that many people, as sustainability professionals, we start to wonder what sustainability efforts are being made to enable the event to label itself as the “Greenest Show on Grass?” Here are some interesting figures I pulled from the Waste Management Phoenix Open 2017 Sustainability Report Update:

  • The event purchased renewable energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) offsets, and 100% of the electricity used was provided by renewable energy.
  • The event restored 63 million gallons of water to the Colorado River Basin and Verde River in Arizona.
  • The event had a 100% waste diversion from the landfill with the following breakdown:
    • 50% recycled;
    • 34% composted;
    • 14% waste-to-energy; and
    • 2% donated.
  • About 23,500 pounds of unused food was donated to local non-profits.
  • Even 57,673 square feet of signage was reused!

Another great platform for sustainability is the Super Bowl. This year’s Super Bowl LII is taking place in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Not only is this year’s Super Bowl a zero-waste event, but it is also enabling fans to consider their environmental impact, and the event has launched the Rush2Recycle campaign. The campaign creates a model for other leagues and fans to tackle waste. The Rush2Recycle website offers four environmentally friendly tips on what you can do at your Super Bowl Party:

  • Ensure guests know which bins are for recycling.
  • Put out a recycling bin for each team and see which team recycles the most.
  • Anywhere there is a trash can, ensure there is a recycling bin next to it.
  • Check with your city’s recycling program to see if they take bottle caps or not.

While I understand that the joy of the game is the reason people attend and watch these two sporting events, I think that implementing sustainability at the event not only enhances the fan experience, but also creates a platform for people to consider our impact on the environment. The next time you are at a sporting event, look to see what type of sustainability efforts are being made, and consider the positive impact these events can have not only on our community but in educating us all.